Friday, May 13, 2005

Genia Shockome Letter from the Chair of the Battered Mothers Custody Conference

This letter to Mr. Spitzer was written by Mo Hannah, Chair of the Battered Mothers Custody Conference. Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General of New York State, has plans to run for governor against Pataki (Rep.). Spitzer is a Democrat, supposedly a relatively good guy, has gotten lots of good PR, litigated against the Wall Street corruption, etc. Please note that Ms. Hannah also mentions the unsolicited blind-copied e-mail from the New York court that I had received. This e-mail included a transcript of the hearing during which 7-months pregnant Ms. Shockome was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

Dear Mr. Spitzer:

I am writing to inform you that, due to the AG's recent intervention into the case of Genia Shockome, your future campaign for governor of the state of New York is likely to be vigorously opposed by the extensive network of political progressives, peace and justice advocates, and human/civil rights activists throughout New York state with whom I am affiliated.

I urgently request that you carefully re-examine the case of Genia Shockome, who currently is incarcerated in the Dutchess County Jail on the charge of contempt of court, 2nd degree. You may or may not be aware that on 5/12, your office intervened in this case involving a battered woman who is a Russian immigrant, seven months pregnant, and the mother of two young children who lost custody of them due to the highly questionable rulings of Dutchess County Family Court Judge Damian Amodeo. Ms Shockome has been incarcerated for 30 days without bail by Judge Amodeo--an outrageous injustice, in the eyes of a multitude of observers.

Many advocates for battered mothers across the state are carefully observing this case. Sadly, Genia Shockome's case fits the pattern we have seen, and continue to see, in family courtrooms downstate and upstate, in Manhattan, Albany, Long Island, and elsewhere: battered women who attempt to limit contact between their children and the children's abusive father are stripped of custody, forced to see their children only under supervision, bankrupted by expensive court-ordered evaluations, visitation fees, law guardian payments, and endless appearances in front of judges who revictimize them in the same way that Judge Amodeo revictimized Genia Shockome.

Although Genia Shockome is by far not the first battered mother that Judge Amodeo has sent to jail for contempt of court, her situation is particularly egregious for the following reasons:

1) as a Russian immigrant, English is her second language; therefore, she was unfamiliar with the legal language used by the judge and the court proceedings to which she was subjected;

2) On 5/5/05, she appeared before Judge Amodeo pro se, without an attorney. She had previously requested one and could have been granted one immediately at the judge's discretion;

3) she wrote at least twice prior to the 5/5/ court date requesting fair notice of the proceedings, which were required to allow her to prepare and therefore be properly heard at this appearance. She was given no such fair notice;

4) the in-courtroom behavior that led Judge Amodeo to charge her with contempt was little more than her well-meant attempt to get her objections on the record, as would be necessary for any future appeals of Amodeo's decisions; and

5) Even if her in-courtroom behavior had been inappropriate, instead of sending this pregnant, immigrant, near-indigent battered woman to jail for 30 days without bail, Judge Amodeo could have chosen to respond in any number of ways that would have been far more humane--e.g., by terminating or rescheduling the session.

An additional point relates to the propriety of the response by the court system to the outrage expressed over this case. In response to those who deluged Judge Amodeo with e-mails protesting his decision, the Communications Office of the Office of Court Administration e-mailed back a defensive rebuttal, along with an attached unrequested pdf file containing the word-for-word transcript of Shockome's 5/5 court appearance before Judge Amodeo. This action brings, to the minds of many of us, the thought that perhaps the Office of Court Administration doth protest too much.

On behalf of the multitude of concerned citizens of New York state and throughout the country who are concerned with this case and with the many injustices visited upon battered mothers by the family court system, I urge you to immediately investigate and insist on the immediate release of Genia Shockome. Then, and only then, will we consider you as a worthy candidate for governor of this great state.

For an indication of the public outrage generated by this and other family court travesties, please see

Mo Therese Hannah, Ph.D.
Chair, Battered Mothers Custody Conference

1 comment:

Shuka said...

Ode to Glenn Sacks.

There was a triangular man once I heard of...
He says he's Glenn Sacks- did I hear that right?
You google your name and his name as a couple...
And thereby promptly goes your sight.

Your eyes hurt and blink- pain does need super courage,
You can't understand why they give such a flop?
Is that just his Photo, or writing of garbage?
Triangular Man - when your wining will stop?

Consistence and Glenn Sacks - these two have a rub;
You ask him for truth and like horse - he'll gallop;
These simple requests forever he'll snub,
Triangular Man - when your wining will stop?

To call him a man would be like hocus-pocus,
Like April Fouls's joke, anecdote at the top,
He bravely beats women - that only his focus;
Triangular Man - when your wining will stop?

One mom's thrown in jail, while the bum has her kids;
Another one raped, psychopath is on top -
Glenn Sacks runs to help - and he falls and he skids,
Triangular Man - when your wining will stop?

Glenn's their beacon of hope, and their best spokesman,
Abusers' protecting super fast antelope,
He glorifies rape, he's abusers' TRUE fan,
Triangular Man - when your wining will stop?

Truth begs, and truth pleads, and reminds, and cajoles
Glenn - loud, and wide, human-like isotope,
But supplications like these went into the black holes, of
Triangular Man - when your wining will stop?

To make his point here -he claims "corrupt courts";
Next page - his position's bent like periscope;
His "findings" spread; slither, like snakes of all sorts,
Triangular Man - when your wining will stop?

You will live on the streets, for abusers to see,
With all your belongings and "findings" on blacktop,
Some lessons come hard for half-humans, like YE,
Triangular Man- when your wining will stop?

They's throw you breadcrusts and weep at your site;
You will be discarded, like that poor Mop,
You can't change the truth, it will always stay right.
Triangular Man - when your wining will stop?

So please heed the warnings and destruction avoid,
You sound like well-fed, abuser's pet parrot,
Stop lying, stop twisting and not become unemployed;
Triangular Man - you bring shame to our Planet!

Written by good Mother.

Explanation of what Triangular Man looks like (no head basically, and fat downward):